Meet the musicians - introducing keyboardist Ed Roth...


This week we have an interview with virtuoso keyboardist Ed Roth. Ed has played with some huge artists and is a highly respected player in the industry. You can now hire his services exclusively through Kollab.

Ed is a keyboardist and musical director based in LA who has played with a diverse range of artist including Annie Lennox, Will Smith, The Brothers Johnson, Peter Frampton, Rob Halford, Tom Morello and many many more!

Ed is no stranger to remote recording, and his collection of vintage analog gear will have other keyboardists frothing at the mouth. The sounds, parts and arrangements that Ed can provide with these incredible instruments will add more to your song than any plugin ever could.

For Kollab members, this is a rare and exciting opportunity to not only work with a professional musician at the top of his game, but also utilise some authentic analog sounds and professional compositions you would never have had access to before now!

Over to you Ed...

Tell us about the kind of projects you typically work on...

I would say the two instruments that I use the most in my studio, regardless of style,are my grand piano and Hammond organ. Timeless instruments that seem to find their way into every style of music. Also samples of them just don't cut it, and to really learn to play them to their potential takes years.
I specialize in playing music that has a more organic feel. I have played on a wellspring plethora of styles, old-school R&B, disco, Latin pop, classic rock, synth pop, pop punk, instrumental jazz, rap, edm, Americana, old-school metal, reggae, classical leaning film scores, both old and new gospel, and in the last few years quite a bit of country.
Recently I've been fortunate to play on some wonderful country albums, including Cody Jinks, Turnpike Troubadours and the Black Lilies. To me, A lot of country has really become old-school southern rock, with of course plenty of piano, and nowadays dirty Organ and even Wurlitzer.
Because I have a few film composers that call me, i'm sometimes called for odd things , and music that might not be the current flavor.
A studio musician can lift up a song regardless of the style of music with the right part and the right feel, whether it requires them being heard and felt or felt and not heard.

Who are your top five musical influences?

This is an impossible question, but I will name five, including producers. If you love music and you have an open mind, you can learn something from quite a bit of different recordings.

Let's start with Quincy Jones, a producer who just understands how strong songs are constructed, with the importance of parts, groove and dynamics. He knew how to let his studio musicians come up with wonderful parts and magic.

This one might surprise a few people, Rick Rubin. As a producer, Rick always seems to find the essence of a band, boiling down songs and production to their core elements, and letting the bands and musicians do their best. Whether it's Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Run DMC, Metallica, the Avett Brothers, Tom Petty, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem, or any of the huge catalog of great recordings that he's been the producer of, those albums speak for themselves.

The Beatles and George Martin. Such a wide expanse of musical ground was covered by these guys, great songs, cool experimental production, timeless brilliance. You could go on and on about how much their music influenced things to come, and how much it stretched genres.

Stevie Wonder, song writer, producer keyboard player, singer, he kept trying new things on each record, from dirty funky to sweet and sexy, to jazzy and adult, to gospel, he nailed it all.

Miles Davis is big influence. He always ignored boundaries, inventing genres, finding the best players and turning them loose. He understood the beauty that sometimes lives in dissonance. I'm always wary of letting people I work with know that I play jazz, (I wouldn't say that I'm the most authentic jazz player, but I do love the freedom of it) because of their misconceptions of what it means to play jazz. The reality is, to play jazz you have to be able to improvise, your ears have to be big, you have to be able to come up with melodies on the spot, and you're playing must be at a level that you can turn on a dime. No matter the genre of music you're playing, these are also the requirements of a good studio musician. You must hear the song, hear chord changes, find the right parts and have the ability to play them with groove immediately in any key.

I'm going to break the 5 rule and just quickly name two players that influenced me a lot in my studio work, Nikki Hopkins, and Bernie Worrell. Nikki Hopkins, the unsung hero piano player, has played on countless roots rock recordings. If he didn't invent that rootsey style of playing, which you you might say he did, his organic, sometimes honky-tonk, sometimes sweet, sometimes even old-school gospelly piano playing style just always sits well in rock, country and Americana. Bernie Worrell somehow managed to mix funk, classical and jazz into his iconic playing. All over the place and always cool and interesting.

Ed live with Peter Frampton...

Ed live with Peter Frampton...


Tell us about your home studio setup…

My recording studio is all about keyboards. I have the important staples, a Kawai 6 1/2 foot artist grand piano that just sings, I spent a year looking for the right piano, and found it with this one. I have a Hammond organ and Leslie from the late 60s that also sings. Of course, I also have Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes electric pianos and a Hohner Clavinet, all maintained, and all specific instruments that I hand-picked for their tone. I have plenty of analog synths, from Oberheim to Moog to sequential circuits. These instruments sit in a mix completely differently from samples, adding some magic whether it's a pad, low-end enhancement, or a signature part. If I need to use samples, I use an emulator 4, it has a special warmth from the high-end converters made at that time.
I have high-end Royer and Mojave Mics, as well as sometimes using good old 57's, put through both tube and solid-state 70s and 80s mic pres.

Ed's home studio has some impressive analog instruments...

Ed's home studio has some impressive analog instruments...


Tell us what you can bring to a song…

I record every session like it's the last time I'm going to play, always bringing my best. I play for the song, and always try to bring what's needed for the song, Whether it is a melodic signature part, funky comp, filling the cracks around vocals and solos, rounding out the corners, or simple pads that are felt more than heard, every song is different and must be treated that way. I'm still just as excited to record now as when I started my career, and I think it comes through in my recordings.

What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?

I have had the good fortune to work with a lot of real deal artists over the years, so it's hard to just pick one experience. Recording with the whole band live along with a full string orchestra with Annie Lennox is definitely a highlight. Recording live with a full band is always a blast. You get the great vibe playing live with the band, and being able to fully go for it knowing you can fix any little clams in an overdub.

Most recording sessions nowadays are done remotely, so I think more people are used to it and have strategies to make them work more effectively. The most important thing I think is communication. I try to ask for examples both stylistically and tone wise. Most people like to comp a take these days, so I will send several takes, some busier than others.

What genre(s) of music do you specialise in?

As I mentioned earlier, I have recorded in so many different genres, that it's difficult to just pinned down to one or two things that I do. I am hopefully aware of my limitations, and if something comes up that I don't think I'm right for I refer someone else. I think my strong points are my feel, being able to come up with memorable parts, and the ability to play for a song, rather than being the absolute most authentic style parrot.

How do you think Kollab benefits you and other musicians?

Kollab brings players, producers, and artists from all over the world together in a way that was never possible in the past. It opens up all kinds of doors for great new music and great new collaborations.

[caption id="attachment_8524" align="alignnone" width="740"] Ed in his home studio laying it down on the B3...[/caption]

What advice do you have for anyone looking to hire a musician like you?

When hiring musicians for remote sessions, communication is key. If you have a case of 'demoitis', or know exactly what you want, let the musician know. Personally I would recommend being flexible and open to other ideas that might lift the song up. Make good use of someone else's creativity.

Find out more about Ed or message him direct on his profile here.